Friday, February 5, 2010

Sue Scheff: Think Before You Speak

How many times have you said something you wish you could take back? How many times have your children repeated things you wish you never said? As many parents know, what goes in their little ears can come out of their mouth - when you least expect it or want to hear it!

How about when your teens repeat personal matters in your family? If you are sharing private information with your teenagers, you may want to be clear it is personal and especially not to share it online or in text.

What about when kids don't understand certain slang words and use them unknowingly in conversations that end up hurting others?

A very sensitive and difficult subject is sexuality. Today we are better educated and in tune with different ways of life for people and their own sexuality. What happens when a teen believes they are gay or a lesbian? Life can become extremely difficult for them.

Parents play a crucial role in teaching their children about the negative impact of bullying and harassment. Talk about these issues with your children and within your community. Learn about the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). No matter what your religious beliefs are, no one should condone bullying. We should not judge others, as we don't want them to judge us.

GLSEN Mission: The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Some parents may not be comfortable with this subject, however it is a topic that needs to be addressed. Ignoring it can lead to devastating results. Whether it is a child hurting or taking their own life (watch video below of grieving mother, Sirdeaner Walker), you need to be an educated parent. Teach respect for all people, all races and all walks of life.

Studies indicate that students who regularly experience verbal and non-verbal forms of harassment suffer from emotional turmoil, low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, poor academic achievement and high rates of absenteeism. Research also shows that many of the bystanders to acts of harassment experience feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, and develop poor coping and problem-solving skills. Clearly, homophobic and all types of harassment-and the toxic effects they produce-are whole school problems that all educators must confront. -

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens. Teach your kids to "think" before they speak. As adults, we also need to think before we speak at times too. We need to be an example to our children.

Watch video and read more on Examiner.